You jump on your Harley Sportster 1200 expecting to go for a ride and when you press on the starter button nothing happens. Several things could prevent your Sportster 1200 from turning over. However, since the engine does not turn over, the focus is on the electrical system. This includes the ignition, starter, starter solenoid and the battery.
Check the key. If the key is not turned to the "on" position, your motorcycle will not turn over when you press on the starter switch. This is common to forget to turn on the key.
Check the ignition-arming switch located on the handlebar next to the starter switch. The Sportster uses a dual arming ignition. You must turn the key and the arming switch on. It is common to forget to turn on the arming switch.
Turn on the headlights to determine if the battery is generating power. If the headlights do not come on, charge the battery until fully charged. Repeat the steps to ensure the battery comes on.
Attempt to start the bike with the headlights on. If the headlights dim, the starter switch works properly. If the headlights do not dim, the starter switch on your handle bar is defective, as it does not send power from the battery to the starter.
Locate the two metal posts on the back of the starter solenoid and place the end of a pair of pliers on each metal post. This shorts out the starter solenoid.
Press the starter button. If the starter motor comes on and makes a humming sound, the solenoid is defective. If the starter motor fails to turn on, the starter motor is defective.